Sunday, 12 September 2010

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

GENRE: supernatural thriller

Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 letter from the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller to the late mother superior of Saint Rose Convent plunges Evangeline into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim. For the secrets these letters guard are desperately coveted by the once-powerful Nephilim, who aim to perpetuate war, subvert the good in humanity, and dominate mankind. Generations of angelologists have devoted their lives to stopping them, and their shared mission, which Evangeline has long been destined to join, reaches from her bucolic abbey on the Hudson to the apex of insular wealth in New York, to the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris and the mountains of Bulgaria. Rich in history, full of mesmerizing characters, and wondrously conceived, Angelology blends biblical lore, the myth of Orpheus and the Miltonic visions of Paradise Lost into a riveting tale of ordinary people engaged in a battle that will determine the fate of the world.


There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them.
Genesis 6:5

This Bible quote is the basis of this book, as it tells the story between a war raging between humans and the Nephilim, the descendants of fallen angels and humans. I’ve always had a fascination for angels and anything angelic in nature, so when I discovered this supernatural thriller featuring angels, the Nephilim and humans engaged in battle with them, I just had to read it and I was not disappointed.

The novel starts with a young nun, Evangeline, discovering a secret correspondence between Abigail Rockefeller and a former mother superior, Sister Innocenta, in the library of her convent in New York. What seems like one woman’s philanthropic interest in church art turns out to be a great mystery on a grand scale that sucks Evangeline into the middle of a battle between angelologists, a secret society that studies angels and the Nephilim, and the Nephilim, the descendants of (unholy) relationships between fallen angels and humans. The Nephilim are after an object, Archangel Gabriel’s lyre, also known as Orpheus’s lyre, because apparently it is the key to their healing process. After many years spent on Earth, the Nephilim have become less angelic and more human, which means that they have begun to harbour human weaknesses such as diseases – and even mortality. However, if the Nephilim get their hands on this powerful celestial instrument, they might destroy humanity along the way and so another battle between angelologists and the Nephilim ensues.

The author used many elements from the Bible and Christian lore about angels, fallen angels and “the Great Ones”, as the Nephilim are called in the Bible. She combined these elements with Milton’s Paradise Lost, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and her own imagination, and the final product is a wonderful, suspenseful read. I don’t think that angels, fallen angels and the Nephilim have ever been tackled on such a massive scale before in such a detailed, insightful way . There is something very romantic about these remarkably beautiful and extremely powerful celestial creatures, but one must not forget that fallen angels are dangerous and soulless, and that those that fell became devils. The Nephilim are so one part angelic, one part demonic and one part human, a quite lethal combination. It is a new trend that angels are the new vampires and this book definitely proves this. Beautiful and supernatural, angels are beauty and holiness incarnate, or in the case of the Nephilim, ungodliness incarnate. Humans are fascinated by them and fall into a sort of spell in their presence, and touching a fallen angel or a Nephilim is something that a human cannot bear – literally. I have to say that I am a great fan of vampires, but after reading this book, I have to say that angels are even better. They have a rich and quite a turbulent history that is based on Biblical mythology and although most of it comes from apocryphal texts, it made me wonder while reading this novel if not just parts of it, but all of it could be entirely true. The novel really is constructed as a clever, convincing history of the angelic world. It introduces this celestial world to the reader in detail.

Just like the reader, the protagonist, Evangeline, learns many new things, not only startling new facts about herself, but about the whole system of angelology, an ancient science that has existed almost since the time when the Archangel Michael defeated the fallen angels and had them trapped in a deep cave, forcing them into an eternity of imprisonment. This novel features many Catholic elements, yet it is not about faith, but about angels and the whole mythology surrounding them. Anyone can read this novel, no matter their beliefs. There are some quite startling twists present, especially regarding Evangeline. The author also made sure that angels really are everywhere in the novel, even when they’re not present. For example, some characters have names that are reminiscent of angels: Gabriella (Archangel Gabriel), Angela, Evangeline. Allusions are really subtle and it is important to pay attention to them because they lead to a big discovery. I have to say that I pretty much figured out the truth about a character in the last third of the novel, but the final revelation was still very surprising. I think the one thing about the novel that I found a bit far-fetched is that it spans over the period of one single day. So many discoveries are made in one day, even crucial discoveries that the greatest angelological masterminds could not figure out, and yet two people who had never heard about these things before and did not even know that the Nephilim walked the Earth suddenly solved every puzzle there was. That was a bit strange to me and slightly unbelievable, but the novel as a whole is such a gripping read that I can forgive that.

The way the novel ends definitely leaves room for a sequel and I would very much like to read it when it comes out. This is a supernatural thriller that is perfect for lovers of angels who are interested in their mythology. You do not have to know the Christian lore regarding angels, and you don’t have to be an expert on the Bible. Everything is explained in the book. If you like supernatural thrillers and angels, this book is perfect for you.

Read for the R.I.P. V Challenge.

THIS MISS RATES: / (4.5 stars)


Blodeuedd said...

I saw that they have translated this one so perhaps the library will get it..but translations suck, and you make it sound so good

Julie P said...

This sounds like a good read, and what a beautiful cover! I am going to check it out on Goodreads....

Jan von Harz said...

Want a completely thorough and thoughtful review. I actually borrow this from the library once but ended up having to take it back before I read it. I think I will have to try again. Loved your review.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

Sounds interesting-I've seen this at my library but haven't borrowed it because a. I have so many other books to read and b. I wasn't sure about the angel aspect. Now thanks to your review, I'm a lot more interested in it. It sounds like a good thriller with some very educative aspects.

Dot said...

I really enjoyed this one, I remember being unable to put it down!

Midnyte Reader said...

I love biblical mythology. This sounds great.

Katy said...

Wow, this sounds really interesting. Great review.

Rachel said...

Sounds really thrilling!! Great review.
I noticed you're reading Ransom My Heart. That's been on my wishlist literally for about a year, but I never picked it up. I can't wait for that review!! :)

--Rachel B.

Kailana said...

I am really curious about this book. I had it out from the library, but ran out of time to read it. I must try again! Thanks for a great review!

Unknown said...

I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this one because it was an adult book and you know, I don't always get along with them. But now, I am going to give it a shot. How could I not? It sounds completely entrenced in angel mythology. My favourite. A huge thank you for reviewing this. You're a star!

Anonymous said...

There's been some mixed reviews about this book but I really enjoyed it too and am looking forward to reading the next one. Reminded me a little of Anne Rice's earlier novels.